Like this post, for instance, where I said Shu is still sad and angry far too often. And maybe it came across like I can't believe he'd have anything to be sad about. Which is so totally not how I meant it. Perhaps I should have said I wish he weren't sad today. Or I wish I understood why he's feeling sad today so I could do something differently.
I think parents who have adopted hold themselves and others up to far greater scrutiny than is merited or intended. A friend is in China right now adopting her beautiful daughter. Several times she has mentioned how this or that is "normal" or "to be expected," mostly referring to the children's grief, stress, fearful reaction, etc. at meeting their parents for the first time. And she's absolutely right! Normal! But I wanted to share with her that "normal" can still make for a painful and challenging experience. Discounting it in any way is unnecessary. Another bloggy friend wrote this recently: "Remember that while you read, please. Nothing is a surprise or unexpected." [Disclaimer: I have permission from this gal to blog about her comment.] I suspected--and my suspicion was confirmed--maybe she was guarding against readers judging her, perhaps thinking her "caught off guard," as she writes about the tremendous challenges of bringing home two boys, each with a physical need. As if any feeling of Sweet mother-of-pearl, this is harder than I thought it would be! should be cause for criticism. Haven't we all had those thoughts about every facet of life??? My friend's comment jumped out at me because I instantly understood her felt need to add a disclaimer to her own thoughts.
Am I saying we shouldn't go into adoption with eyes wide open, especially when adopting a child with known physical needs and guaranteed emotional needs? Oh my goodness...no! I read every adoption book I could get my hands on prior to our trip, and plan to read some of them again. Research is great. Having a medical plan in place is necessary. Reading other people's stories, valuable. That's one reason I try to be honest in my own blog--to let others see that loving a child to wholeness is an amazing and difficult process, and it may take a while, and It. Is. OK.
All this preparation can't truly ready you for your own possible stark reality...and the surprise factor...of a child far more delayed or malnourished than expected. Far angrier or sadder than expected. A child who rejects one parent. Attachment that takes many months or even years longer than you thought it would. The undisclosed special need. And how could you know? There are blogs full of smiling, beautiful, seemingly well- and instantly-adjusted adopted kids. And I'll just be real honest with you. Reading too many of them really made me believe that instant attachment (even while still in China!) and immediate "wo ai ni"s, kisses, and trust are the norm for one, two, three months home. That posting my dear son's sad face and being...yeah, I'll say it...surprised by how long it's taking for happy to outweigh sad is somehow maligning him or dismissive of all the progress we've made.
There are happy surprises too, you know. A quick and easy attachment...yes, it does actually happen. A heart defect no longer present (thank You, Jesus!). The blessing of watching your children integrate a new sibling with compassion. The joy of helping to restore a life. A spirit enlarged and humbled by adoption and drawn deeper into the Father's heart and dependence on Him.
Some things you just cannot plan for. That's the nature of this life. Some things blindside you. Some things take your breath away, the scary and the exhausting, the horrible as well as the lovely. I want us all to have the freedom and grace to share our journeys if we choose to, unexpectedness and all, with transparency and honesty.
Paul wrote this in 1 Corinthians 4:
As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.That's some free thinking, huh? For now I'll just keep doing what He's called me to do, and saying what I think He's called me to say, trusting I am safe in His love and grace, and even in His correction. You do the same.
O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me....
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.